Julie Roberts

The Good Wife

Jul  3-27, 2007

Galeria Fortes Vilaça

Galeria Fortes Vilaça has the honor to present The Good Wife solo show of works by Julie Roberts, one of the most acclaimed contemporary British painters. In her watercolors and oil paintings, Roberts revisits 20th-century history to discuss the condition of domestic servitude to which women have been subjected from the moment they become housewives.

From a somewhat anthropological viewpoint, the artist discusses an ongoing theme, despite the nearly one hundred years of feminist struggle. What roles does the male viewpoint still attribute to women? What is still expected from a 'good wife' nowadays? Repression against women in the course of history – whether it be in the realm of formal education, or in everyday life – is a recurrent subject in Roberts's production. This time around, the artist depicts female figures in household scenes taken from photograph illustrations in a typical housewife's handbook from the 1930s. Rather than rendering the dream of matrimonial happiness, Roberts demonstrates that women were faced with burdensome, monotonous and routine chores restricted to homemaking and child care.

The artist obsessively pays attention to details and she nurtures a Foucaultian fascination toward the representation of the body in different situations, as she reveals the manner in which social mechanisms dictate the characteristics of a human body. Linework and vivid colors permeate all her works, from the four-watercolor series The Good Wife that lends its name to this exhibition, to paintings. In the large-format watercolors that stand out in the gallery, we observe a new feature in her poetics: several objects float against monochrome backgrounds, thereby resembling a "Surrealist dream", particularly in Veil. In her more recent paintings, Roberts sets aside the monochrome background and centralized compositions, to adopt fully-covered canvases in which she splendidly represents architectural details of household environments such as curtain, fireplace, or a wooden chair.

The artist renders the featured characters with arabesques and round tracing, thereby stylizing their facial shapes. Roberts's articulate discourse informs her entire body of works, offering an instigating narrative for the spectator.
Julie Roberts belongs in an artist generation that became particularly notorious at the Glasgow School of Arts in the early 1990s. She has shown at the Tate Britain; Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Ludwig Museum, of Budapest; Scottish National Gallery, of Edinburgh, and the 1993 Venice Biennale. Early in 2007, her watercolors of the series The Good Wife were exhibited at the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow.